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Kenya feeling the strain as Ukraine situation worsens



By Judith Gicobi

Kenya is facing a massive food import bill, fewer exports, and lower farmer incomes as rains continue to be delayed and critical goods in the local market become scarce due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Oxfam International, based in the United Kingdom, warned yesterday that the rising crisis in Ukraine would have ramifications for East Africa’s food security and threatens to deflect the world’s focus away from the massive humanitarian effort that is currently required.

“As disruptions begin to affect the global trade in grains, oil, transport, and fertilizer, food prices are beginning to skyrocket. They hit an all-time high last week. In Somalia, prices for staple grains were more than double those of the previous year,” Oxfam Executive Director Gabriela Bucher stated.

East African countries presently purchase up to 90% of their wheat from Ukraine and Russia, according to the humanitarian organization.

Bucher urged governments, particularly those from grain-exporting nations, to do everything possible to identify viable alternatives to the looming supply chain disruption from Ukraine to low-income, food-import-dependent countries.

“And – as we witness the tremors triggered by the failure in international efforts to tackle the climate crisis – we underscore the need to ramp up action on climate adaptation and mitigation,” she continued.

Stakeholders in the coffee value chain have voiced concern that output would decline dramatically this year, denying growers large returns. They blame the problem on high fertilizer prices and delayed rains.

According to the Kenya Coffee Producers Association (KCPA) and Kenya Coffee Platform (KCP), the delayed rains have caused crop flowering to be disrupted.

“The delay in the flowering of the coffee will, in the long run, affect the quality of the beans which Kenya is globally reputed for,” said Peter Gikonyo, KCPA chair.